PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged his Zanu PF party to bury the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance by wresting all urban councils from the opposition and reclaim its former dominance in the country by winning the 2023 elections at all costs.
Addressing the first politburo meeting of the year at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare yesterday, Mnangagwa attacked MDC Alliance, which he said should be voted out of all local councils because it had failed to deliver basic services.
“It has become obvious to all our people that the opposition-led councils have failed to deliver services to our people, we must vote them out of these councils,” Mnangagwa said.
Our people have suffered long enough and we must deliver a better quality of services by taking over these councils.”
Mnangagwa made the call while addressing a gathering that exceeded 30 people in violation of the lockdown restrictions he put in place since the start of the year.
On Monday, Mnangagwa extended the lockdown measures by another two weeks and extended the ban on all social gatherings with the exception of funerals where only 30 mourners will be permitted.
Mnangagwa’s remarks came at a time his government is being accused by the MDC Alliance of using State apparatus, especially the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the President’s Office to sabotage the operations of opposition-run local councils.
Currently, the Harare City Council is operating without a town clerk, mayor or deputy after most of the top council officials were arrested and suspended from office for alleged corruption. Council has failed to convene full council meetings after the recall of councillors by the MDC-T, a move observers say has Zanu PF footprints.
Zanu PF has been performing well in rural constituencies during the last elections, but has failed to regain control of urban areas since the formation of the MDC in 1999.
The opposition has also been struggling to make inroads into rural constituencies due to intimidation by war veterans most of whom have benefited from Zanu PF’s patronage system such as the land reform programme.
Since Mnangagwa took over Zanu PF leadership in November 2017 coup, he has shown greater determination to destroy Chamisa, who nearly edged him out in the controversial 2018 general elections. His party has been accused of destabilising the operations of opposition-led councils through Local Government minister July Moyo to justify the appointment of caretaker commissions to run the local authorities so as to destroy the MDC Alliance stranglehold on power.
Zanu PF has accused the MDC Alliance of shady deals involving land to finance its operations, an allegation the opposition party denies.
Mnangagwa urged his party to work towards reclaiming urban support while claiming that Zanu PF was moving the nation towards economic prosperity as the opposition is consigned to the dustbins of politics.
“In all that we do, let us remain focused towards a resounding victory in 2023 elections and reclaim dominance in all the country’s provinces including urban areas,” Mnangagwa said.
The President told his party that it should stop playing to the gallery by running to the media with internal party matters.
“We will not be deterred or distracted by sideshows and divisive elements,” Mnangagwa said.
However, MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo said Mnangagwa was to blame for the poor performance of local authorities as they did not exist in a vacuum.
“The performance of local authorities is subject to the performance of the national economy. Mnangagwa has failed to run the country and it is him who should go,” Hlatywayo said.
“Right now, Harare for two consecutive years, has been working without a budget after the minister refused to approve. Mnangagwa’s government has taken money for roads realised through vehicle licensing from councils. How are councils going to repair the roads?
On water, government, thorough the Zimbabwe National Water Authority has the mandate to construct water sources and as of water treatment, it is not the MDC’s fault that they have monopolised the production of water treatment chemicals, which has made it difficult for councils.”